In a bid to encourage economic development and defend Canadian sovereignty throughout the North, the federal government announced a new program of geo-mapping for Canada’s Arctic.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement on Aug. 26, 2008, noting, “As I’ve said before, ‘use it or lose it’ is the first principle of sovereignty in the Arctic. To develop the North we must know the North. To protect the North, we must control the North. And to accomplish all our goals for the North, we must be in the North.”
Sovereignty in the North may not be a concept that miners frequently consider. Yet it is essential if Canadians are going to benefit from the potential natural resources. I include fresh water along with the metallic, diamondiferous and hydrocarbon deposits of the region. The United States is offering to claim sovereignty over the Arctic landscape, but that is not in our interests.
We must as Canadians make it very clear that the Northits people and its wealthbelong to us. The new federal initiatives will help ensure that reality. Promoting the mineral industry’s interests is a great way to do that.
The geo-mapping program will combine field research and advanced scientific analysis to provide Canadians with a fuller assessment on the extent of mineral and energy resources in the Canadian North. This information will help generate additional investment and economic development in Canada’s northern communities.
The geo-mapping announcement is the latest example of the government’s commitment to protecting Canada’s North. In the past week, Minister of Defence Peter MacKay has participated in Operation NANOOK, a major Canadian Forces Arctic defence exercise, and Minister of the Environment John Baird has announced three new National Wildlife areas on or around Baffin Island. Also, Secretary of State for Small Business Diane Ablonczy announced a major expansion of broadband services throughout the North.